Just like that, summer has come and gone and fall is upon us, which means back to school (for some) and settling back into routines of this new normal. Everyone is doing their best to move forward with these adjustments. Many people are still working from home with plans to go back to work and some have opted to permanently work from home. Leaders are having to adjust quickly and lead a remote workforce. Given these changes, how can leaders create the culture they want from a distance and maintain a trusting relationship with their employees?
Setting the tone for trustworthiness means communicating effectively and in a way that is heard by the other party. Since some workplaces have lost the luxury of a shared workspace and staff may not be meeting in person, there is almost a need to “over-communicate” right now to compensate for the fact that (in some places) we can’t just walk down the hall to pop in and ask questions.
Here are some ideas that we know work as we use them within our own team and organization:
Building Trust in Your Relationships With Your Staff
Before you ask yourself if you can trust your employees, consider if you have proven to be trustworthy to them? You can earn their trust by practicing our six ways for being trustworthy.
Be reliable — This includes doing what you say you’re going to do and following through on your word. If you want your employees to turn their work in on time, make sure that you’re responding to their requests in a timely manner or meeting deadlines of your own. Always ask for a “by when” so you set clear expectations. This proves to your staff that you’re accountable to your commitments.
- Make sure you’re respectful of others’ time. Be careful not to over-commit.
- Have accountability on both ends and maintain your commitments. For example, if you can’t make the meeting, let the others involved know immediately and provide alternatives.
Speak the truth — Be open to having difficult conversations to address tough situations. If there’s an issue with poor performance, don’t sweep it under the rug. Be curious when having these conversations and don’t jump to conclusions. Both parties should look to discover where things are not going well and create action plans together to address the issues.
Show vulnerability — Vulnerable people are not afraid to acknowledge their shortcomings and admit when they have messed up. Be open to sharing things about yourself that are not so glamorous; when people can see you have ups and downs just like them, it makes you feel human to them and more approachable.
Be authentic — Authenticity has many facets, but it comes down to being genuine and being true to the values that you hold. In order for someone to lead with authenticity, they first have to be self-aware of what those values are — this requires looking in the mirror for self-reflection. Authentic leaders are able to improve individual and team performance by building trust through daily and consistent action.
Create clear boundaries — Are your employees emailing at all hours of the day and night, expecting you to be responsive 24/7? When working remotely it’s important to establish clear boundaries — for you, and for them. Communicate clearly to ensure everyone is on the same page. We all require some downtime — it is very important to maintain balance.
Show compassion — This might be one of the most important aspects for a healthy working relationship under these circumstances. Showing that you care and being flexible and understanding will go a long way in creating a trusting relationship. This also includes being fair and inclusive. Be consistent in how you treat your employees; if you make an exception for one, be ready to apply it across the board.
Setting Up for Success — Creating an Effective Remote Workforce
Establishing trusting relationships is an integral part of working remotely. A component of this trust-building is maintaining personal connections with your employees.
Find creative ways to incorporate specific, scheduled time to check-in with your staff.
- Meet with employees individually to sort out what needs to be done and how that will happen in these circumstances. This also helps you to recognize their specific needs and support them. Setting expectations from the beginning sets everyone up for success.
- Maybe your staff was accustomed to meeting monthly for dinner/drinks after work and now that’s changed. Find ways to incorporate regular interaction outside of work. Have you heard of “Wine and Zoom” — it’s just like it sounds! Be sure to make these virtual get-togethers a regular occurrence by scheduling it with your employees — this shows you care.
- Cameras on! There is much to be said about being able to see and read someone’s body language and not just hear a voice on the other end of the phone. Make sure, in addition to conference calls, you are also incorporating a weekly team video call.
Putting it into Action
Now that it’s September, we’re winding down from vacations and settling into routines. We’re all doing our best to redesign our lives around these changes. It’s healthy to be vulnerable in this time and to share with your employees how you are managing, and you can expect they will be more open to sharing with you. Creating this personal connection is a big part of trust-building, especially remotely. Taking the time to prioritize and invest in your staff will not only be appreciated, but returned to you and your business.
If you could benefit from chatting with an HR expert about establishing trust in your work relationships, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Let Daeco help you with other aspects of getting set up for the Fall:
- If your company doesn’t yet have a Work from Home policy in place, Daeco can help you to design and implement a policy tailored to your needs.
- Do you need to implement guidelines around COVID-19 but you’re not sure where to start? We can work with you to create this.